domingo, 23 de septiembre de 2012

Hilly, Hot, Henderson – 70.3 World Champs Race

Better late than never, 2 weeks after the big race in Vegas I don’t want to miss writing something about it…

The pre-race days were pretty easy going, Las Vegas yes, big party no. Staying with Jules in a cozy apartment driving back and forth to Henderson every day for registration, bike things, course check, swim, bike, run, the days were flying to Saturday’s bike check and breakfast with Amanda and the Soas Crew and finally Sunday morning, race day. The alarm clock went off at 4.15am, coffee, breakfast hop in the car to get to Henderson, and at the end the 15min we got out of the house late turned out to make me really nervous, T1 closed at 6am and we haven’t arrived at 5.40 yet… we made it but I hate having to rush on race morning. After bike preps Jules and I re-met and went to Lu’s hotel room to pass the time until 7.30, 7.50 respectively, watched the pro swim from there, had some water and laughs and off to the start…  

Water start, was okay, the tiger doesn’t like water too much, I was swimming, not competing, didn’t find nice feet until the turning point and this time preferred to swim alone than behind zigzagging feet. The swim was warm, sometimes too warm and long… finally got out of the water and through the loooong transition zone, swim skin off, helmet, sunnies and out… again, loooong way until get on the bike. The first 2k uphill until reach the main road where surprisingly I spotted Lu on the other side which meant I she was only 1min ahead… Looking at the watts the whole time, don’t over pace, its hot, its hilly. It did not feel as hilly, concentrated in hydrating and not over pacing and pacing when necessary, passing an 84 year old athlete, that’s cool hey! I mean not that I was passing him, the guy and his age, one of the few moments when I really felt racing world championships; maybe the only one. Actually I was thinking a lot about the level here, seeing my co competitors around I was surprised that in terms of speed and appearance it did not really feel like world championships, it felt like every race, maybe a bit bigger. And hotter… on the up hills getting slow I could feel the heat and impressed me a bit, only a bit but maybe a bit too much.

Once passed the entrance to lake las Vegas I was riding expecting the last climb…. That never came. Well, a slight up hill but not really a climb… lesson learned. Do the bike course on the bike the week before the race if you have time.

T2 went well, my bag had the pole position, I had a volunteer with me, got sunscreen on my way out to the run and went off to the first of 3 laps. Downhill, fast, hot, like every race with several laps taking the first one to get to know the course. The first aid station was maybe a bit far, but came. Water. Water over me, water to drink more water over my head. Uphill. Back to T2 some flat meters, only few, turn left and more uphill. Eternal uphill… 180º turning point and down. Felt good, was fast but not fast enough to recover the slow uphill part. I knew it would not be a fast 21k and it would hurt. At this point I heard the words of Greg Bennett who we met on pre race evening at the supermarket. He said: it will be a tough day. This race is mental. Oh yes it was.

Second lap, the mentally most difficult one because it’s the one in between, not the first you learn to feel the course, not the last you finish the race. The long lap, the middle lap … don’t go too fast, there is one left after this one, don’t go too easy, don’t lose time. Maybe I should have thought more in this, instead I think my concentration went far for a while… I can’t really say, I only know that I started to put ice in my race top and it felt not even cold. I forgot to mention the small hill between the first and second downhill part. Come on! Hurt my legs!

Last lap. Down hill okay. Up hill slow, but still running. More water, more ice in the top. The last uphill. Hot, hurting, no mental power to go faster, I’m not sure if it was the mental power or the physical. Some meters before the last turning point to  go the last downhill to the finish line I spotted a black one piece tri suit with a Spanish flag on the bib number, thinking: hey, a Spanish guy! Starts with a J… I guess I was a little bit in the tunnel by that stage because it was Jaime ;)

Last turning point and downhill, only 1,5 or 2k to go. I was flying to the finish and felt good. The finish line was in fact a bit sad. This is a world championship? I had no idea about my rank, I knew my time because of my watch and it was not the best one.

I got the biggest finisher medal of the century, hell this thing almost made me fall over, then onto the food tent with AC (nice detail), I grabbed some fruit and went out to the shadow to wait for the others to come. I can’t really tell what I thought by the time. I got bored by sitting around so I went to the food tent again and found Jules, recently finished, looking at me and saying “this was soooo hard”, and there was the big hug one needs at a finish line. 

11th AG at the end and missed my top ten goal by 1’31’’… next time… and the game begins again...

miércoles, 19 de septiembre de 2012

Leaving Las Vegas

l’ll leave the race report still on hold… leaving Las Vegas on Tuesday around midday by car we (Lu, Jaime and I) almost swam away, an enormous cloud had decided to open her doors above us and converted the streets in rivers and lakes.

Destination Death Valley, the hottest, driest and lowest location in the US, during the drive we experienced temperature changes of 17ºC, warm and rainy in Vegas, fresh on the way to death valley and then rising up to 34ºC driving down to the narrower points of the Valley. The narrow basin of Death Valley is 282 feet below sea level, aprox. 100m… We know the name Death Valley because of Wild West movies, but I haven’t really had an idea about it. There are definitely too many places in this world to read and learn about.

And my memory is special. I was here in California/Nevada/Utah 21years ago with my parents and brother, driving from San Francisco down to San Diego, then National Parks, Las Vegas and more National Parks. I remember some of them, especially some photos of this 3 week travel. I don’t remember if we have been in Death Valley, what I know: the nature, colors and size are breathtaking. Unfortunately we don’t have a lot of time to stay and explore everything. Zabriskie Point was in my eyes the most amazing spot we could see, the sun dropping already…
lunch in Beatty
 Death Valley, Zabriskie Point

Some sand dunes and a coffee in Badwater saloon and heading out of the park, climbing up again observing some huge thunderstorm on the other side of the hills, as I said: everything is big here, even the lightning’s ;) Or maybe its just the free view we had and the extremely dark night that you’ll never have in Europe because there is too much light. We had a chance to look at the stairy sky for a while when we were stopped by the sherrif because of a overflowed road caused by some heavy rain that came with the thunderstorm we had seen during the drive.

End of the day in Lone Pine a small wild western style village, American Diners place for dinner and night in Dow Villa Motel to wake up the next morning and have a stunning view to Mr. Whitney, arriving at night we had no idea about the place…

Buttermilk pancakes and watered coffee for breakfast, a quick car ride towards Whithey and the funny rocks before, the way took us to Yosemite National Park, stopping at Mamooth Lakes for a good coffee, climbing up to the National park. On the park entrance I actually remembered the last time I’ve been here, or the photo. The nature of this place is indescribable. I have been here before and remember some things. I remember El Capitan, 910m of vertical rock, the water falls (if they were here, but we had been to some kind of waterfalls), well and some shorts and sweatshirts with “Yosemite” on them. I remember what I was wearing this day. But I don’t remember the Indian’s village, nor the half dome another impressive rock..
 Half Dome

 Gran Capitan
 indian's hut

Taking renewed impressions with me, we headed out of Yosemite in the evening, had some sushi that seemed to be made by some 4 year old Japanese kid trying ;) and went further on the next morning to Sequoia Tree National park, where the oldest trees on earth are to find. In a small area, the big forest you can spot these auburn trees that reach an altitude up to 80m. The biggest is the General Sherman Tree, almost 85m high and a diameter of 11m on its base and 8,25m at 1,3m of altitude... even standing there we cannot capture the real size of this plant and even less the fact that some of them are almost 3000 years old. Possessing a thick bark that protects them from fire, they are an impressive example of survival modes and stunning nature’s beauty.

 The Giant Sherman Tree
 some random sequoia..
 partially burned

With these big experiences in our minds the way took us back to see level, out of high mountain scenery, back to the big city and civilization, Los Angeles. Staying in Venice this time, hanging out with my Aussie family Amanda and Luke with beach, BBQ, some souvenir shopping, a last bike ride and a bus tour through Hollywood and Beverly Hills it was the perfect finish to 16 days which again made me think about places to live or way of lives to impart…

I have my stamp for this year in my passport. Time to think about next year, hopefully America again… or another unknown destination… life is what happens when you’re planning other things for it…

viernes, 7 de septiembre de 2012


70.3 World Championships. 70.3 means 70.3 miles, means 113.1368832km in total. 1.2miles swim, 56miles bike, 13.1miles run, or 1,9km swim, 90km bike, 21,1km run. 113 World Championships.

Yards, meters, miles, kilo, liter, ounces, gallons, euros, dollars, pounds, Celsius, Fahrenheit…

Does it really count if the temperature is 100F or 37,78ºC or 310.93ºKelvin? There is only one fact: it IS hot. Las Vegas temperatures in September are high, day and night, sunny or cloudy, windy or not. Las Vegas means casinos, weddings, gambling, lights everywhere, shows and money. I came here to race, 2 days in Vegas, no casino yet. Instead the day organizes around swim, bike, run, eat, rest. We come here to race, to measure and compare our performance with the best of the world and race the world championships. We are supposed to be the best of our kind, the elite of Ironman (or half in this case), or the lucky ones who got here by role down (like myself).

I raced 3 half IM distances this year. The first was terrible until the run, the second was lovely Italy where I got my slot becoming 5th of my age group, the 3rd was my 1st race win. They all were very different; they call themselves half distance, referring to Ironman or long distance triathlon. Anyone not belonging to the world of triathlon has no idea what “long” means.

And neither did I yesterday in Henderson pool. 25yards; how many meters are 25 yards? 22,86m. I was supposed to do 30x50m. I did 40x50yards, thinking that 25yards were about 20m.

Be in control of what we are doing, taking as reference something we know, not just let happen what we don’t know. Is it really important if I swim 25 or 22,86m? The times were telling me 20m, my feeling was horrible but actually I’m not sure if it was the pool, the heat, the travels or that I was thinking I was doing very poor pace in this session. Time and distance, a price, salaries, temperature, we always compare trying to make us feel good but many times is does the contrary.

If you are happy with what you gain and suddenly you find out that your buddy gains more than you, you feel bad, even if you were very happy with your money before. You are happy with outside temperatures of 100ºF, not having any idea how much that is, you find out that it is almost 40ºC and think: damn, that’s really hot! You do your race and feel great, are happy with your performance this day, see the result list and think: what a shit place I’ve done!

I am training mostly alone, especially the bike and the run and I trust my body, listen to it, fight with my mind many times and learn. I know that my run is probably my best. I know that I have a solid power on the bike. I also know that I still have a lot to enhance on the bike. Sometimes when we go out and train with someone we feel bad about our performance because probably we think the other person is better than we are, instead of trusting our capacity and enjoy the company. It is really hard to find a training partner who does make you feel good, who makes you push this little bit more to get better, who slows down if you’re having a bad day, who works with you, challenges you one day and rides along with you the other…  

We race to know where we are in the ranking, how good or bad we are, if we can win the girl or guy next to us. To feel good if we did a good race, or learn if we couldn’t put everything we had. We put on the desk what we have, dollars or euros, doesn’t matter. We gain, we spend. And we go a certain distance in a certain time and I think what counts at the end that we try to do our best.

We know the distance of the race, on Sunday we will know if it is long or short, if it will pass fast or slow, that’s up to us. Even if it is a championship where world’s best athletes compete, every single one of them has to make his or her own race. I don’t care if I run 13.1 miles or 21.1km, 100 or 38 or whatever degrees. I want to do my best, do my race, give it all and have a good time with friends. The more we enjoy, the faster time passes, too fast sometimes and too slow in other occasions. It’s all about what we make out of it. No matter how you name it. Meters, yards, Euros, dollars, race, life… 

2h @ starbucks... taper morning

martes, 4 de septiembre de 2012

Labor day

Still no Wifi for my computer, maybe that’s good because I don’t get stuck on the internet and do things I normally don’t do, like read ;)

Day number 3 here in Redondo Beach, getting used to the schedule, adjusting the body which still takes a bit. I’m just back from my second run here, the pace is okay but it doesn’t still feel confortable.

On Sunday night we went down to the pier for a walk, everybody was out, the night before Labor day, the restaurants at the pier full of people, so was the toe ring shop we entered… kind of an embarrassing moment when all the girls have these perfectly pedicure feet and yours are lacking 2 nails… new running shoes needed!

But let’s start at the beginning:
Sunday morning, quick breakfast and catch the bike. I had absolutely no idea about the loop we were about to ride, at the beginning crossing the typical living areas with fancy houses and nice gardens and stunning oceans views. Later a nice long climb and the views became even more breathtaking… My mind tried to fit the photos into something I knew, it was a potpourri of Malaga’s mountains (which reminded me of the terrible fire last Thursday night…), a little bit of Australia, some Thai smells… but the view… nothing to compare with.

On the way back a stop at the coffee shop in Redondo, cyclists everywhere! In fact, I thought people in LA would drive everywhere and now I see them riding everywhere, this is the home land of beach cruisers! The climate makes them live outside, see and be seen with the sun around all year long, beach promenades as long as you like.

Our ride was followed by some random lunch and an afternoon with Ipad fun, and the pier walk after, finishing the day at Hoka Hoka Sushi around the corner.

Labor day, lazy day, a run in the morning, a beach bike ride to Manhattan Beach, see and be seen, coffee at Starbucks, more see and be seen sitting there sipping coffee… I really can’t complain about lack of relax here, it still feels weird but I try not to think too much and just enjoy. Maybe I feel like I’m not doing anything because I am not doing anything? ;-)

I will go for an easy run now and a dip in the ocean later before sitting in a car for a while to get to Las Vegas where we will head this afternoon and reprogram the brain into competition mode.

lunes, 3 de septiembre de 2012

FRA-CLT-LAX, the longest friday

Ki is on the road again, or better: in the air.

It was time to get on holidays already and I was really looking forward to the flight, but there was again this strange feeling before getting on board that only happens when I travel alone. It is a mixture of why am I doing this, excitement, curiosity and relax.

I realized that for a long time I have not seen a movie I really liked. Or any movie actually. I have someone close who tells me that I am obsessed with training, well, maybe, yes. The point is not the training. The point is the training, plus work and house and other things that makes about 13 or 14h a day between leaving and coming home. And there is not a lot of time left for movies. I know that but I haven’t felt it until I started to watch “The best exotic m… hotel” which I absolutely loved. That might sound really mad when you read it. But the fact to be in a place with nothing but sleeping and watching movies felt absolutely amazing.

The past few weeks training were good, but requiring a lot of mental strength. The pool was cold many days, the bike hurt and sometimes I wasn’t able to get the averages I was meant to do. But I have discovered a run training mode which I’m not sure I have had reached before.

Since I learned to deal with Jaime’s training, the run is where I most can focus, push and hurt. And here is where I’m always curious, when I get my plan every Monday: will I be able to do that? I had some really long runs last year before IM, but I’ve never done more than 10x1000m on the track. Now I did. 13 on a Friday for lunch and 12 last Sunday brick session. I always divide the efforts, 12 are 3x4. 13 are 3x4 plus one getting back to the clinic. Every 1000 are 2,5 loops on the track, or 5 half loops. But lately I have been able not to think at all about what I still have to do. Only repetitive movement, running circles, over and over again, and in my head: white snow. 

place for no thinking

I am not sure if this is good or totally mad. It depends of the point of view. If I tell that to a “normal” person, it is totally mad. “Normal” I consider a person who doesn’t think from training to training, does no sports or some for fun.
On one hand it gives me a lot of satisfaction to accomplish these sessions I’m scared of when I see them on the plan. It feels amazing to win the battle against myself every day. Actually I think the competition is not the competition on race day. The hard part of getting better is in the day a day.
On the other hand, there are many things I let on the side, because there is no time or energy left for them. And that’s the way I’m not getting bored by being on a plane right now. Movies, sleep, write.

I have written so many posts for my blog during my training, but have never written them actually. That will change the next 2 weeks.
I have 3h left on this plane, then a taxi ride and hug Jules and catch up on things. I am excited to see my aussie family Luke and Amanda and Dan (still don’t know), next week Lu and Jaime and the race, crazy Las Vegas…
After the race I have 1 week left and I still have no idea what I will do. No plans. No stress. No schedule. 
 travelling light...
 there she goes, Frankfurt Airport...

I still dont get it: I slept 6h of this friday, got up at 6am, took the train at 7am, the first fligth at 12.30pm, got to Charlotte after 9h 45min at 4pm, 2h stay, flying out to LA at 6pm, 5h flight time, landed in LA at 8pm, got to Jules place at 9pm and there were still 3h left of that friday.... I've never been good in maths.... ;)
Arriving to LA, 25min lights, lights, lights... stunning!

lunes, 18 de junio de 2012

Las Vegas calling, Pescara 70.3 Race

8:50am is a nice time to start a race, not too early, not too late, just right! Our so lovely hotel made us breakfast (even without being a race hotel), I got up at 6 to get everything ready without a hurry, had breakfast with lovely Italian coffee, woke JJ up, got dressed, grabbed the bag and off to Pescara.

My preparation in the transition zone was quick, not a lot to prepare, my helmet and race number had slept on the bike, we had no transition bags, just a basket, sprint triathlon style. Shoes in the basket, my white a bit superstitious race cap, 2 gels for the run and that was it.

The swim: my swim goal was: find some good feet, follow them. The start was really relaxing, for quite a long time I’ve not had a wave start. I found some nice feet quickly and followed them along the 22 buoys that marked the course. The sea was calm, the water warm and I was comfortable (not like in Marbella, where the swim was a nightmare for me). The water is very shallow for many meters, so we had to walk/jump/run a bit, when I got on my feet my watch said that I was in the time I had to be in. Smile on, and on my way to the reeeeeaaaally long transition zone. T1 was very quick, besides the long run, wetsuit off, helmet on, race number, sunnies bike and let’s go for the 90k.

Since IM Austria I had not raced with Powertap and I knew immediately that my decision to buy it was the right one. It keeps you from going too hard at the beginning and not too slow at the end. I was impressed that the Italians had somehow managed it to take all the cars off the roads! Riding was going smooth; I was only overtaken by one girl of my AG, when I said to myself: make your own race. I should catch her again at the end of the bike leg. The only thing I was missing: the officials. We had lots of police motor cycles with us, but no referees. The first I saw at km 60, and another one around k70, that was it. My tubes made their way thru the 90km without a puncture; my neck didn’t, because of a wasp who wasn’t very amused to land there… The bike course is really nice, but I was quite afraid to get a flat because the roads are not good. I went thru a lot of holes and bad asphalt. The last 10k were mine, headwind, flat, highway. There I got my position back, overtaking the girl that had caught me before.

T2: A short chat with JJ when I was putting on my super socks (superstition rocks), he told me that the first AG girl was about 8min in front. No way to get her, my run is good but not AS good ;)

And here I went for the 21km, 2,5 loops with 3 times over a lovely bridge that hurts the 3rd time you pass it. Every triathlon race I’m grateful when I park my bike at T2, every time I think: now it’s only you, no more preoccupations for flat tires, stupid co-competitors, only running (or walking sometimes, but since2010 not even that ;)

Running felt great, so great I forgot to start the garmin, so I didn’t know exactly what km I was at, but I didn’t care a lot either. I held my pace until I guess until km 17 or 18. The girl I had caught at the end of the bike leg was so far behind I didn’t see her on the way to and back from the 180º turns. The one in front was too far away to go for. Maybe that’s why the pace went down a bit. I had a super day out there. Enjoyed the swim, the bike and the run and the most important to me: I was happy and proud when I passed the finish line, this feeling I was missing lately…

I had no idea which place I had made. My Spanish friends had told me third (which I would have liked a lot!) but finally it was fifth. 1 Slot. Fifth place.

The award ceremony started late and the slots even later. So many times we heard “slot gone”, sitting there, watching the English girl from my AG getting it. She had left her money on the table and went for a chat with some friends over there. I confess I had thought about taking it ;) just kidding.

Well, after more than 2hours most people had left. It was dark already outside. I was veeery hungry and needed to pee. When the speaker said: we have 2 slots left, just a moment please, we have to see where they go. One slot for the boys, one for the girls. “ And the girls’ slot is for the AG: 35-39”. The best was: My concentration was so bad already that I didn’t even get that it was my AG. He called the second girl… first time…. Second time… third time… slot gone. The third girl… first time… my heart rate went up, the IM Austria situation was back!... second time… my hands started to shake… third time… slot gone… Oh my god. Only one girl between me and Las Vegas. My heart’s racing. The speaker looks up and asks: is there anybody left from AG female 35-39??? YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS, MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE, people behind me started to laugh… he read me name: Kirsten Mangelsdorf. I: “yeeeees, heeeeeeeeeere”!!!! “Kirsten goes to Las Vegas “.

I paid the 280€ with an enormous smile on my face. I had already given up the Vegas dream during this long evening. I was okay with it, but that moment was great. Something I had not expected. I have to confess, I was about to leave already, when JJ said: no, we stay here! Thank you JJ!! For everything!!

And the ladies will be back together soon!!!!!!!!!!

jueves, 7 de junio de 2012

Pre 70.3 Pescara, a screwed week

Pescara Italy, 26ºC, sunny perfect. Racing on Sunday has to be perfect too, as the whole week is screwed. Frankly, my last week is all about screws.

First screw problem, changing the number plates of my car, I couldn’t fix them due to the screws, but that’s not very interesting…

So: on Tuesday, preparing the travel I cleaned my bike and was about to change the brake shoes. The first one went well, the second didn’t. I had been too lazy to get some pliers, so I took the bike multi tool, well, the screwdriver to push the old one out the screwdriver slipped and aaaaaaaaaaaaah, it went directly into my left forefinger. I was scared, because that finger didn’t look very nice and hurt a lot. My thoughts went directly to the swim leg on Sunday.

One of the nurses at my work cleaned it on Wednesday morning said: igh, that doesn’t look very good, but she also gave me back some confidence telling me that it was not too bad. Anyway it still looks ugly and hurts.

So, yesterday we took the plane to Rome, we, me and JJ who I’d surprised on Monday with the ticket to Italy.

We arrived late in Montesilvano, had a gelato and went to bed at 12pm. I slept in, got up at 10am and could have slept 2 more hours, I needed a good rest and had a perfect night. 

So, this morning, we had some awesome Italian coffee on the hotel terrace and made plans: I’d put together my bike, ride 2h to know the race course, have lunch, some beach and a swim in the afternoon. But life is what happens when you make other plans: when I was fixing the seat post and screwing down tight, I heard a “clack” and thought: that was NOT good. Result: the thread is a bit tired already and wasn’t willed to catch the screw. So, instead of riding and resting we spent the morning and parts of the afternoon driving around Montesilvano in search of bike shops and hardware shops. We had some nice lunch and after that we found a corresponding screw and could put together the bike.
My worst  thought was, if the thread was really screwed up, I’d had to buy a new frame and after my last purchase, new wheels with Powertap my bank consultant would give me an upset call. 
hilarious, tired and making jokes, better like that than to preocupy

At 4.30pm I went out to get to know the bike course. To Pescara I have to ride approximately 5k and had the way painted on a paper. But I was not prepared to what I was about to find out there. Heaps of traffic, no street names, or wrong ones, until I thought: that’s impossible, I have to have passed the crossroad where I’d to turn right. I had a roaming look on google maps and had passed the road I had to take. So I went back, passed it again (because the road was called Via d’Illo and not Via Po like in google maps…) When I finally had found the right way and the place where the loop starts I was riding 25k already and was really angry. The roads were really bad, the police at the airport had made me to throw away the CO2 cartridges, my back wheel has a 65cm profile, not a 45 like before and the tube has no long valve, so with the lucky week I’m having I decided to return to the hotel and not risk any more accidents. Tomorrow I will get up early, grab my bike, put it in the car, get to the spot where the loop starts, and ride the loop relaxed and with good mood, not swearing like today.
 a bike bridge, and a pedestrian bridge, separated!

At the end, I have ridden 40km in 1h43m (great average), but fixed my bike, had a run with short efforts which felt good, had a nice shower, a lovely dinner and I’m glad that I have inverted some € in another flight ticket.

Things came out nice today, tomorrow will be even better, and on Sunday: prepare!